The Sad Truth
A Harris Poll indicates 46% of those questioned agreed that both sides were at fault in Charlottesville. 39% said only the White Nationalists were at fault. As far as President Trump goes:
The majority of Americans (54 percent) are either ‘not at all or not very satisfied' with how President Trump has responded to the Charlottesville protest. And 63 percent of Americans think The President should condemn white nationalists and other hate groups (among whites, 59% agree). (WNPR August 16, 2017)
The second set of figures is not at all “comforting.” The aggregate numbers, in fact, are rather appalling. We are talking about Neo-Nazis, the KKK, and “alt-right” White Nationalists who were chanting, “We won’t be replaced by Jews!” and “White Lives Matter!” Trump’s “You are changing history and culture”quote Tuesday captures why the numbers are the way they are. Those of us in the “Elite Eastern Establishment” --- people who believe the INY Times and The Washington Post, people who primarily watch CNN and MSNBC, people who are relatively secure economically ( & generally college educated) --- these (we) are the people who, to their (our) own shock and chagrin, are far out of step with the mass of citizens in the United States of America. And that’s the sad truth.
Trump has tapped into a rich and deep vein of white anger and resentment and those who find him ignorant and loutish (which he is) are not people that his supporters (even beyond his “base”) care about. In fact, those of us who rail about Trump’s appalling lack of knowledge about everything, about his hideous braggadocio, about his insistence on making shit up, are now only a grating minority in our Republic. That’s the sad truth (for us).
Facts and the truth do not matter to Trump or his supporters. The vitriol that “political correctness” can ignite, the sheer anger that quoting the NY Times can generate, are part and parcel of the Trump supporter’s character. Those of us (in the Elite Eastern Establishment ) have a certain impervious shell (or practiced obliviousness?) regarding those whose ideas and beliefs are “out of step” with our own. And there’s the rub --- as well as the sad truth.
I don’t doubt that Donald Trump believes it when he says:
You had people in that group that were there to protest the taking down, of to them, a very, very important statue and the renaming of a park from Robert E. Lee to another name. George Washington as a slave owner. Was George Washington a slave owner? So will George Washington now lose his status? Are we going to take down — excuse me. Are we going to take down statues to George Washington? How about Thomas Jefferson? What do you think of Thomas Jefferson? You like him. Good. Are we going to take down his statue. He was a major slave owner. Are we going to take down his statue? It is fine. You are changing history and culture. (Vox August 15, 2017)
Trump's conflation of Founding Fathers with Confederate "heroes" clearly reflects his ignorance of American History, as well as iconic symbolism. His grasp of concepts is primitive, really, so, in his mind, a statue is a statue --- and statues represent heroes and, therefore, shouldn’t be removed. It is childish reasoning, of course, but it works --- not only with Southerners who want to “preserve their heritage” but also with the White Nationalists/Neo-Nazis/KKK who appropriate Trump’s ignorance to propel their own devious cause of white supremacy. And Trump honestly believes what he says (at least in the moment he says it). According to Vox:
Trump made a concerted effort to normalize the participants of the white supremacy rally. “Not all of those people were neo-Nazis, believe me,” he said. “Not all of those people were white supremacists by any stretch.”
Did those “non Nazis” and “non White Supremacists” not notice they were demonstrating with people shouting “Blood and Soil,” “Sieg, Heil” and “You Will Not Replace Us!” And if they did notice, why would they continue to march with such people (if they didn’t agree with them)? A thought like that doesn’t enter Mr. Trump’s simplistic mind.
Our President has spent his life pretending. He pretends he is a billionaire, he pretended he was a brilliant mogul on The Apprentice, he pretended to have “foot spurs” to avoid the draft, he pretended he wasn’t racist when he challenged President Obama’s nativity, etc. And now he’s having problems because he’s pretending to be President but all he knows how to do is hold “campaign style” rallies to rile up angry and resentful white people. This is the Sad Truth and we have to resist at every turn. We have to call out his lies and transgressions while figuring out ways to dissuade vulnerable people from being lured into his odious web of false equivalencies and vindictive attacks. It’s always showtime for Donald Trump and he’s the star of his own show and all he cares about is being in the spotlight and hearing his named chanted at rallies.
And that, my friends, is The Sad Truth.